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It didn’t take Bridget long to gather the supplies she needed and get started in the kitchen. Luckily for her the kitchen hadn’t sustained nearly as much damage as her office. Also helpful was the fact that Lane had done a significant amount of clean-up for her already.
After wiping down the counters and gathering her supplies she was ready to get started. The first thing she had to do before she started cooking was photograph her ingredients. She arranged them artfully on her kitchen island and then took several pictures, using her camera set up on a tripod. The tripod was probably the only piece of camera equipment in her office that had been salvageable.
Once the ingredients had been photographed Bridget started peeling, chopping and preparing. She stopped periodically to photograph each process. Occasionally she’d set the timer on her camera and get in a shot herself.
Lane sat at one end of Bridget’s large kitchen island drinking coffee. Bridget worked intently at the other end. Lane was enjoying watching her work. She’d pulled back her masses of curls and twisted them into some sort of knot at the back of her neck. Lane thought it was sexy.
She’d taken off her red jacket before coming into the kitchen, and the soft pink sweater she had on now showed off voluptuous curves. She was comfortable and confident in the kitchen. She stopped every so often to wipe at her brow with the back of her wrist, and then got right back to work. Even with the photos she had the casserole in the oven in under an hour.
Without even missing a beat Bridget started cleaning up. Lane figured he’d been a spectator much too long and got down from his bar stool to help her with the dishes.
“Detective Johnson just sit back down! I’ve got this under control!”
Lane laughed and said, “No way, I’m planning on eating a healthy share of that casserole you just put in the oven. The least I can do is help with the dishes.”
Bridget smiled at him and shrugged, “Well I can’t really argue with that logic!”
“Good! Don’t you have a blog post to write? Why don’t you get started now and I’ll take care of the mess.”
“Seriously, you wouldn’t mind? I’d love to be able to get started on these photos. I actually have most of the writing done. I worked on it this morning at my parents.” Without any further persuading Bridget, set her laptop up at the far end of the island and took the seat Lane had just vacated. She got right down to work, sort of. It was hard to concentrate on photos of chopped onions and celery, when she Lane to watch. If only her readers could see this! It wasn’t very often she had a sexy man doing her dishes.
She left out a small chuckle. Who was she trying to kid? She’d never had a sexy man doing her dishes! The opportunity was just too good to pass up. Bridget grabbed her camera, unplugged it from her computer and took several shots of Lane doing her dishes.
Lane heard the shutter clicks of the camera and turned to see what Bridget was photographing. “Hey, what are you doing? You’re going to ruin my image. I’ve got a tea towel slung over my shoulder.”
“Ha! A lot you know. Women everywhere are looking for good looking men who know their way around kitchen clean-up. If I post this, it will boost your image. Plus I told you earlier that I often posted about the exciting things that were happening to me. Today counts as exciting.”
“Bridget Riley, I hope when you say ‘exciting things’ that you are referring to the break-in and not me doing your dishes! Because … well … that would be sad!”
Bridget laughed and plugged the camera back into her laptop, “It’s both actually, which is kind of sad, and that Detective Johnson is exactly why it should be obvious to you that I couldn’t possibly have any connection to Max Giovanni.”
“Okay, point taken. Are you really going to put my picture on your blog?” Lane grimaced.
“Only if you say I can. If you are right and Max Giovanni is really after ME, it might not hurt to let him know that he’s got the wrong woman and the wrong woman isn’t alone,” Bridget reasoned.
“It might,” Lane agreed. “But … it may have a downside too. I want to think it through first.”
Bridget got right back to work. Her photos had turned out well and there wasn’t much editing to do. She’d photographed enough recipes in her kitchen that she knew just the camera settings to use, based on the light (or lack of during the evening shoots) in her kitchen.
Bridget had just finished uploading her photos to flickr, when the oven timer went off. The post was progressing well. She had just needed to take a couple more shots of the ‘plated’ food and she’d be ready to add the photos to her post and she could call it a night.
“Man that smells good,” Lane told her.
“It’s my new favourite,” Bridget told her. “She looked around her spotless kitchen and told him, “You’ve definitely earned your supper tonight Detective, but you’ll to wait just a few more minutes. I still have to take a couple more photos of the finished product.”
Bridget grabbed her camera and quickly photographed the casserole, both in the dish and on a serving plate with a side salad. When she was confident, that she had what she needed to complete her post, she dished Lane up a huge serving and they sat down together at the island to eat.
“This just might be the best thing I’ve ever eaten,” Lane raved. “If I promise to do the up these dishes too,” He said using his fork to point back and forth between their plates, “can I have seconds?”
“Please! Eat!” Bridget encouraged. “I always have to make way too much food for these blog recipes. I usually end up sharing with Mrs. Dupleski, but I’m not feeling very neighbourly right now.”
“Let Mrs. Dupleski feed herself tonight,” Lane kidded as he dished up a second helping. “Do want another piece?” He held out his hand motioning for Bridget to hand her plate over.
Bridget hesitated, it was REALLY good, but the last thing she needed was more food. “I’d better not.”
Lane didn’t think she sounded all that convinced, “Oh come on, just a sliver? I do slivers really well; my mom always wants just a sliver.”
“Okay, go for it. You’ve twisted my rubber arm, but just a sliver!”
Lane kept his promise and gave her a wee piece and handed it over before he carried his own plate back to his stool and sat back down beside her. “All joking aside, I realise that you feel like Mrs. Dupleski has made your life difficult, but have you considered that she may actually have saved your life?”
“Well, not really … “
“Well think about it. I’m willing to concede that you have no ‘known’ connection to Giovanni, and that this might be a case of mistaken identity, but if Mrs. Dupleski hadn’t give us all the information, you’d have come home and reported a run-of-the-mill home invasion. You wouldn’t know about Giovanni and that wouldn’t be good!”
“And you wouldn’t be here, and that would definitely be a crime” Bridget thought to herself. To Lane she said, “I guess you’re right, but how are we going to know what’s up? When will I know that he knows that I know that I am not the right ‘Bridget’?”
Lane chose his words carefully, they seemed to have an easy peace between them and he didn’t want to upset that, “I don’t know that yet. You might not be a mistake Bridget, I know you can’t image a scenario where you’ve angered Max Giovanni, or have something he wants, but please don’t rule it out.”
“WHAT?” Bridget started.
“Wait, wait, wait,” Lane put his hand over hers and squeezed. “Don’t get all worked up, I’d bet the farm, if I had one, that you’re not knowingly involved but it’s a possibility that you’re UNknowingly involved. Just let me look into that okay? Let me rule it out.”
Bridget wished he’d let go of her hand. He was making her feel all warm and … “STOP IT Bridget” she scolded herself silently. She looked across at Lane, he was sincere, “Fine, how are we going to rule that out?”
“We’re working on it Bridget!”
Max Giovanni was not a patient man and he knew it. Anyone and everyone that had anything to do with him knew it too! Therefore, his shouting wasn’t anything novel, but just the same it wasn’t any less frightening to soft spoken Vito, his very nervous assistant.
“What do you mean the fucking photos aren’t there? Those two idiots said they got all of the fucking computer gear, so now it’s time for you to find the damn photos. You got it Vito? If you don’t want to find yourself keeping Lionel and Seth company, you’ll make it fast too!”
Vito knew his boss was volatile, so he chose his words carefully, “Mr. Gio, Sir, I know Seth told you they brought in all of the equipment, but I’ve been through all of the files on all of the drives and the most recent files are a little more than three weeks old. The photos you want are just a week old, Mr. Gio Sir. Look here Sir, I’ll show you. ” Vito showed his boss the list of files, pointing out the dates. Making sense didn’t mean he’d be out of the danger zone, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. He hoped.
Max swore a blue streak and then, “I don’t fucking believe this. I sent those two idiots to take care of something simple and they fuck it up. They got what they deserved for bringing the cops sniffing around my place. You’d better not be wrong about his Vito, or you’ll be sorry too.“
Vito silently cursed his brother Gino for getting him involved with Max Giovanni. Gino had begged Vito to do some computer work for Giovanni three years ago, three long stinking years. He told him it was just one time, one time so that Max ‘the asshole’ Giovanni, would overlook a late payment from his brother Gino. Vito had quickly learned there was no such thing as ‘one-time only’ with Max Giovanni. The first job had led to another, and then another. It hadn’t taken long until he was working for Giovanni full time.
Vito went over and over in his mind, all the ways he could get away from Giovanni. He knew that he’d seen and heard way too much to be able to just walk away. The old bastard had made it clear that he’d keep working and keep his mouth shut or he’d meet the same fate as he’d handed out to Lionel Frank and Seth Robbins, and a half dozen other men that had angered him since Vito had started working there. Vito knew Max didn’t make idol threats. He’d considered running and hiding many times. He was pretty sure he could disappear, but Giovanni knew his family. He wouldn’t think twice about making Gino or even his sisters and their families pay for Vito’s disappearance. He’d considered leaving Gino to his own devices, but there was no way he’d do the same to Marie or Angela, and never, ever to their children. He was stuck here, until Max Giovanni said different.
“Vito, what the hell are you doing? Quit the damn day dreaming and answer my fucking questions. If the photos aren’t on those drives, where the hell are they?
“Daydreaming, this is a nightmare,” Vito thought to himself.
“Sorry sir,” Vito responded. “All of the photos over the past 24 months were taken with a Nikon D700 and most of them are edited with a program with Photoshop. What is interesting about that is that Photoshop is not one of the programs on the computer that Lionel and Seth brought to us. In addition to that Sir, these external drives look like they are added to every 6 weeks or so. Based on the volume of images she puts up every six weeks I don’t think she’d be able to store them on her camera’s memory stick, well not just one anyway. The missing program makes me think that she must have another computer, maybe a laptop.”
“Cut out the geek-speak Vito, and get to the fucking point,” Max ordered.
“Sorry Sir. It looks to me like the woman has another computer that she keeps her photos on until she is ready back them up on one of these external drives,” Vito held up an external drive, so that Mr. Gio would have no trouble following his reasoning.
“Are you sure?” Max asked. “Be sure Vito!”
“No Sir, Mr. Gio Sir, I’m not 100% positive, she could have whole bunch of memory sticks like these …” He scrambled to fine one of the scan disks Lionel and Seth had brought in. “I think it’s unlikely though sir, based on the prefixes of the file names, I think having a laptop is more likely or perhaps a combination of the two, Sir.”
“Shut the fuck up Vito, just shut the fuck up!” Max Giovanni strode from the room, but not before giving Vito a backhand.
Vito’s anger rose dangerously. He had to find a way to stop Max Giovanni and it had to be soon. There had to be a way, the man was a monster.
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